Using phone plans in routers

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tetranz
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Using phone plans in routers

Post by tetranz » Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:22 pm

Hi all

I'm setting up cellular data in an RV. I have a Pepwave MAX BR1 MK2 router which is working on a $120 per month AT&T plan from one of the many somewhat anonymous resellers. It's working okay but I need some redundancy because my partner and I both work remotely and I don't want to find ourselves without a connection. We use lots of data. 600 GB per month on our home fiber this month but a lot of that is streaming HD which I'm sure we can restrain ourselves and get that down a lot. I'd hope to keep it below 250 GB. The Pepwave can take two SIMs.

I'm well aware that the perfect plan does not exist. That would be "unlimited" data at an affordable price without breaking carrier terms and conditions. I guess the new rural internet plan from Verizon in a few limited locations comes close.

I have several questions that I'd appreciate any thoughts on.

I'm thinking of getting a T-Mobile plan. Maybe the "Unlimited Plus" prepay https://prepaid.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans.

I'm also looking at the "Unlimited Data Plus" prepay from AT&T https://www.att.com/prepaid/ as a cheaper alternative to the plan I have now. For all I know it might be the same plan.

I hear lots of reports of people using these sorts of plans in routers. Sorry if this is a silly question but can I confirm my understanding of how people use these in routers.

You need to sign up on these with a phone right? I don't need another phone but I'd need to find a compatible phone, get the account signed up and then move the SIM to the router and hope for the best.

Both those plans are "may notice slower speed after you go over the limit" kind of words. So people continue to use it well over those limits (50 GB for T-Mobile, 22 GB AT&T) and results will vary but it seems to generally work. It's obviously breaking the terms and conditions using a phone plan in a router but ... people mostly seem to get away with it.

Is that a roughly accurate description for how most people are using lots of data on routers?

I should probably start separate threads for my other questions.

Viper67857
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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by Viper67857 » Sat Aug 15, 2020 5:08 pm

That's the gist of it... Deprioritization over xxGB doesn't usually mean much if you're not in a high population density area so that the towers aren't congested. I tend to go over 2TB with a 100GB post-paid phone plan without noticeable drops in speed. As always, though, YMMV.

tetranz
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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by tetranz » Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:48 pm

Thanks. Here's another silly question. The only phone I have right now is an old iPhone 6s. Until recently it was a line on a postpaid Verizon plan but I recently moved it to Visible.

Assuming it's not locked to Verizon, can I use that phone to signup and activate an AT&T prepaid plan and then put it back to Visible? I mean temporarily swap the Visible SIM for the AT&T SIM, activate, then put the AT&T SIM in the router and the Visible SIM back in the phone. Can I do that or do a really need a separate phone that I put aside and never actually use.

Visible is my other backup using WiFi as WAN to the Pepwave. I haven't had the courage to try putting the Visible SIM in the Pepwave. I know some people have had success with that but I don't know how dangerous it is in terms of getting the account canceled or (much worse) getting the Pepwave blacklisted.

Viper67857
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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by Viper67857 » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 pm

Someone else will have to chime in on pre-paid activations. I've only ever been on post-paid. I'd assume sim-swapping in an unlocked phone would be fine, if that's even necessary with AT&T. They generally don't care what kind of device you're using. My sim came already provisioned so it went straight into the router.

tetranz
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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by tetranz » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:55 am

I see that cheap phones are easily available on eBay. I'll probably just get a used unlocked phone for activations. I probably should be somewhat careful buying used phones but some of the sellers have over 100K feedbacks with close to 100% satisfaction so they must be doing something right.

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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by MattB29 » Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:24 am

Just a heads up. Verizon has to have certified your phone before they will allow it to be activated. Many old phones ( and some new ones) are not usable on Verizon due to this requirement.

tetranz
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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by tetranz » Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:50 pm

Viper67857 wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 5:08 pm
That's the gist of it... Deprioritization over xxGB doesn't usually mean much if you're not in a high population density area so that the towers aren't congested. I tend to go over 2TB with a 100GB post-paid phone plan without noticeable drops in speed. As always, though, YMMV.
What do you set your TTL to? Is 65 correct for AT&T and T-Mobile to make it look like phone data?

I'm reading this. I assume that's you elsewhere on that thread.
https://www.reddit.com/r/Rural_Internet ... dium=web2x

Viper67857
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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by Viper67857 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:10 pm

AT&T doesn't care about ttl

tetranz
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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by tetranz » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:37 pm

Viper67857 wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:10 pm
AT&T doesn't care about ttl
Okay. I don't doubt what you say but do you know how they distinguish between phone data and hotspot data? If you're using 2 TB then they're obviously seeing your data as phone data. Lots of people say it's the TTL but ... I don't know.

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Re: Using phone plans in routers

Post by Viper67857 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:55 pm

When you turn on the hotspot on your phone, the phone reports things differently. An LTE modem doesn't do that. A phone won't even do that with the right set of apps running. Some providers use other means of telling the difference, like the TTL. AT&T doesn't, at least not yet.

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